2024 Regional Conferences

Embodying Excellence: Professionalism in our Industry

September 24
TOUR
Free Range Flowers

DESIGN SESSION
Squalicum Boathouse

September 25
EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS
Squalicum Boathouse

The ASCFG West & Northwest Regional Conference will be held at Free Range Flowers in Bellingham, Washington State. This two day event will feature presentations on cut flower topics, floral design, dedicated time to network with fellow cut flower farmers in the region, and a tour of the host farm. Please note that Bellingham is thirty miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border and may be a wonderful opportunity for our farmer members in British Columbia to attend an ASCFG Regional Conference in 2024. 

Space is limited. Don’t wait to register!

Maximum number of attendees: 90


DAY ONE: SEPTEMBER 24

The first day will include a farm tour at Free Range Flowers and a Floral Design Demonstration at Squalicum Boathouse. The group will be evenly divided. Attendees will choose their preference for whether they will begin their day with the farm tour or the design session at Squalicum Boathouse. Attendees will simply switch venues after lunch on their own.

DAY ONE: SEPTEMBER 24

Morning
Group A

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Free Range Flowers Tour

Host: Celeste Monke
6222 Medcalf Road, Bellingham

Morning
Group B

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Floral Design Demonstration
Carmen Winquist, Noctua Florals

Squalicum Boathouse
Located in Zuanich Point Park
2600 N Harbor Loop Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225

 

DAY ONE: SEPTEMBER 24

Afternoon
Group B

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Free Range Flowers Tour

Host: Celeste Monke
6222 Medcalf Road, Bellingham

Afternoon
Group A

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Floral Design Demonstration
Carmen Winquist, Noctua Florals

Squalicum Boathouse
Located in Zuanich Point Park
2600 N Harbor Loop Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225

 

Free Range Flowers Farm Tour

Celeste Monke

Free Range Flowers is a small flower farm and floral design studio offering arrangements and services for weddings and events in Bellingham, Seattle, Washington and beyond. We grow on the traditional lands of the Nooksack people, working with care for a future where love wins.

About Free Range Flowers

Celeste Monke owns and manages Free Range Flowers. The farm blooms are organically grown and rainwater fed gifts grown on Nooksack land in a larger farm project of environmental and social sustainability. The farm offers a safe place to bring our full selves forward, encourages learning, connection to Nature, and visioning of what healthy community looks and feels like.

 

 

Foam Free & Ecologically Sustainable Floral Design

Carmen Winquist of Noctua Florals

In this session, Carmen Winquist of Noctua Florals will showcase her foam free and ecologically sound floral design processes that ensure long-lasting arrangements through sustainable and environmentally friendly means. Attendees will leave with new ideas and strategies to apply to their own farms.

About Carmen Winquist and Noctua

Carmen Winquist is the owner, farmer, and lead designer of Noctua Florals Boutique Flower Farm, which is nestled in the foothills of the Cascades. Both flowers and vegetables alike grow throughout the 5-acre property, and Carmen uses organic and regenerative practices on the farm, including rebuilding soil organic matter, providing habitat for pollinators, and restoring soil biodiversity.

 

 


DAY TWO: September 25

Educational Sessions at Squalicum Boathouse

Located in Zuanich Point Park
2600 N Harbor Loop Dr, Bellingham, WA 98225

8:00 a.m.

Coffee, Welcome, and Introductions

Erin McMullen, Rain Drop Farm
ASCFG West and Northwest Regional Director
Steven Crone
ASCFG Executive Director
Rebecca Marrall
ASCFG Education Director

9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

Profitability for Cut Flower Farmers

Celeste Monke of Free Range Flowers

In this session, Celeste will provide an overview of how to evaluate a cut flower operation for profitability. She will provide an overview of her own processes, and attendees will leave with new ideas and strategies to apply to their own farms.

About Celeste Monke

Celeste Monke owns and manages Free Range Flowers, a small flower farm and floral design studio offering arrangements and services for weddings, events, florists, and wholesalers in Bellingham, Seattle, Washington and beyond. She grows on the traditional lands of the Nooksack people, working with care for a future where love wins.

 

 

10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

Mum Cultivation: How to Grow for Cuts and Profit

Miranda Bowman of Wildrye Farm

Specialty chrysanthemums have recently experienced a renaissance in variety and popularity. In this session, Miranda will discuss the development of her chrysanthemum cuttings program at Wildrye, including an overview of the varieties that have been chosen for stem length, color, and form; how to become USDA inspected and certified; and how to ship throughout the United States.

About Miranda Bowman

Miranda Bowman owns and operates Wildrye Farm, a half acre urban farm located in the Birchwood neighborhood of Bellingham, Washington, and which includes an additional 1/2 acre 15 minutes to the North at Boxx Berry Farm. Wildrye Farm grows our flowers sustainably by following organic growing practices, including using compost, cover crops, practicing crop rotation, and using biological pest controls.

 

 

11:00 – 11:50 a.m.

Le Mera Gardens over the Decades

Joan Thorndike of Le Mera Gardens and Isabella Thorndike Church 

Joan Thorndike wasn’t always a flower farmer.

After Joan married her husband Dan and moved to Southern Oregon, she was surprised to find there was no flower culture in the Valley despite its generous growing season and agricultural landscape. Flowers in the 1990s were reserved for special occasions, they were primarily sold around Hallmark holidays, they were treated as a luxury, and underappreciated or misunderstood for their impermanence.

Joan set about to change that culture, to make fresh flowers widely accessible, a necessity not a luxury, a source of simple joy. A couple of decades later, to farm locally has become a movement and Oregon grew a big and appreciative love for seasonal fresh flowers farmed close to home. Throughout the 1990s, Joan farmed Le Mera Gardens on an acre and a bit at the outskirts of Ashland, raising her children among flowers, bees, bugs, and dirt in all weather conditions. In early 2000 she was invited by Suzi and Steve Fry to join forces with their remarkably diversified Fry Family Farm, a marriage and partnership which has allowed her to vastly expand the diversity, quantity and quality of flowers and foliage for her clients in southern Oregon and northern California.

These days Le Mera Gardens’ seasonal fresh flowers, foliage, branches, berries and ornamental herbs are sold to local florists, designers, do-it-yourself weddings of every stripe, local businesses, homes and charities in southern Oregon and northern California, from mid March through late October. In this session, Joan Thorndike and Isabella Thorndike Church will share the remarkable story behind Le Mera Gardens in Southern Oregon. 

About Joan Thorndike

Joan Thorndike of the renowned Le Mera Gardens is an offspring of the larger Fry Family Farm and are located in southwestern Oregon, in the heart of the Rogue Valley. Le Mera Gardens grows approximately 10 acres of seasonal, specialty cut flowers, foliage, ornamental berries, branches and herbs, and the farm is USDA certified organic, Bee Friendly, and Salmon Safe. They serve wholesale clients, and supply individuals for weddings and special events.

 

 

About Isabella Thorndike Church

Isabella was born and raised in southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley. She spent her summers at Le Mera Gardens, her mother’s organic flower farm, and winters skiing and racing on Mount Ashland. From a very young age she grew deep roots in agriculture and a passion for the great outdoors. After receiving a degree in Environmental Analysis from Pitzer College in southern California, Isabella moved to Burlington, Vermont where she coached alpine skiing at Cochran’s and worked on a small flower farm/design studio called Stray Cat. In 2016 she returned to Ashland and claimed her spot as her mother’s right hand on the flower farm while simultaneously establishing her own flower design studio, Jacklily Floral. Jacklily distinguishes itself by sourcing all of its seasonal ingredients from local farms and found materials. Isabella sells weekly flower bouquets for all occasions, she also designs the flowers for special events and she builds large scale art installations for art exhibitions and privately owned spaces. On her time off Isabella can be found exploring by foot, on a bicycle or on skis. She might otherwise be seen building masonry wood fired ovens and heaters with her husband Jeremiah Thorndike Church whose business Boreal Heat moved with him from Vermont to Oregon in 2016.

Both Isabella and bees depend on and have a deep appreciation for flowers, so she is very happy for the opportunity to play a role in advocating for these essential winged comrades as a member of the Bee Girl Board!

 

 

Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Lunch

Included with registration

1:00 – 1:50 p.m.

Developing an Employee Management Program

Rachel Ryall of River & Sea Flowers

Do you have employees, or are you thinking about hiring your first one? A team is one of the most valuable assets and biggest expenses on a flower farm. Let’s talk about hiring, managing, and working with staff to keep the farm running smoothly and efficiently throughout the season.

About Rachel Ryall

Rachel grew up on a farm in BC and later became enamoured with cut flowers while working in organic mixed vegetable production. With a degree in visual arts and keen interest in botany and sustainable agriculture, cut flower production seemed like a perfect fit. She started River and Sea Flowers in 2016 and now produces 2 acres of certified organic cut flowers on Westham Island, 30 minutes outside Vancouver, Canada. She and her team sell their crops at farmers markets and to florists, as well as through DIY bulk buckets, a small CSA and a shared farm gate stand.
 

 

 

2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

Making the Road as We Go

Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farm

This session will look at changes in our industry over the past decade, with a focus on challenges and successes brought by farmers working together. Diane will offer a brief look at the trajectory of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and broaden the discussion to what the future might hold for all flower farmers when we think of ourselves as “in business” together.

About Diane Szukovathy

In 2008, Diane Szukovathy attended the ASCFG’s 20th Anniversary Conference in Portland Oregon. At that time, Jello Mold Farm was just getting started. Someone asked a provocative question: Where did we see our industry in the next 20 years? This question ignited an interest and passion for the local flower movement which led Diane to serve a term on the ASCFG Board and help found the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market in 2011. Always innovating, Diane has served on the co-op board since it’s beginning, helping to shape it’s trajectory into a vibrant business entity. These days, she and her husband Dennis Westphall are more “leaf farmers” than flower farmers, as their 5-acre farm has matured and they dovetail their offerings to complement those of other farms. Most recently, she worked with growers and staff to coordinate the SWGM Floral Standards book, a tool which is intended to help flower farmers work together to build a lasting industry based on quality and shared knowledge.

 

 

3:00 P.M.

Roundtable Discussions

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer knowledge sharing through a roundtable discussion format. Moderated by experts in the field, attendees can choose which roundtable to participate in on the day of the conference. Bring your questions and advice, and be ready to share!

Member Priority Registration opens at noon on April 16 through April 30.

Please note, Regional Conferences will not be recorded and space is limited. Don’t wait to register!


Registration Information
September 24 – $175
September 25 – $250
September 24 and 25 – $375


Cancellation Policy

Due to the limited space at regional conferences, we do not offer refunds.
Contact us in case of emergency to inquire about a waiting list and your spot may be transferable. No guarantees.

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